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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: fromsouthchicago ()
Date: October 10, 2018 04:15AM

Allow me to introduce myself, I am Marilyn Hargraves cousin. My mother and her mother were sisters. My mother's name was Mildred and her mother's name was Bessie. Bessie was part of the TLWF until Marilyn threw her out of the cult in the 90s. I have had no contact with Marilyn as an adult but several of my relatives have. I do have contact with and a good relationship with her brother, Charles and his wife.

To give you a little understanding of where I fit ... Marilyn and Charles were born almost two decades before I was. I'm actually closer in age to Marilyn's children than to Charles and Marilyn.

What I know about Marilyn, especially in later years comes from reports from my relatives. I decided early on that I would maintain a long distance from her.

When I tell people about Marilyn and this cult, I generally receive gasps and a few nervous laughs. Some people, including my wife didn't completely believe me ... that is, until she met Charles and his wife. What she learned shocked my wife to her core. My wife discovered that not only what I had said was true, but was actually worse than I had told her. Charles and his wife had more frequent contact with Marilyn and have been more tied into the information stream than I have been. Thus they were able to further educate us on the goings on.


What I have learned about Marilyn was that she had developed into an opportunist and a sociopath. She was someone who had absolutely no conscience. From all that I have heard about her, she learned that she loved power and manipulating people. And loved all the money she extracted from her followers, her believers and she continued to want more. I base this on all that I have heard over the years from my relatives and from what I know that she did to my Aunt, her mother. Bessie believed in and was devoted unquestionably to Marilyn. And in turn Marilyn took her mother for everything she had. One day, she threw her out of the cult. Bessie never understood the reasons for her explusion. Bessie died not long after it happened. I saw her shortly before she died.

Based on what I'm reading in this forum, Marilyn became exceptually good at giving into her desires and using her skills to exploit and manipulate people. What you have written aligns with what I have heard from my relatives about her activities.

My motivation posting this ... there's a high possibility that I would soon be passing through where Marilyn is buried and I considered paying my respects and placing a stone on her grave. Knowing that she's buried at what my relatives call "The Farm" (AKA Shiloh), I decided that it might be wise for me to do a little research on what's happening there. I ran across this forum and starting reading. Based on what I've been reading, I'm a little hesistant to drop by. So, I would appreciate anyone letting me know whether I should be concerned about dropping by, identifying myself and visit her grave. And if anyone is interested in asking me any questions about Marilyn and her involvement in the cult, I'd be happy to tell you what I know. Understand it will be hearsay information, but I think I can provide answers to some questions you might have, especially about the "early" Marilyn.

My best to all of you.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: Cloudwatcher ()
Date: October 10, 2018 05:11AM

Thank you so very much southchicago. Your words are very appreciated as they peel back yet another layer. Many on this forum are accused of all kinds of wrong motivations for posting here. But to hear from the family with another whole perspective---it is a boon to all of us.

Marilyn was ruthless during her reign as the queen. The pain and destruction she inflicted on families cannot be quantified by the stories heard here---it is only a fraction of what the true numbers are -----it's a pandora's box.

So many have suffered needlessly from the deep fear of rejection that she instilled in her subjects. Even those who gave blood and money eventually were discarded. So it touched everyone.

I know that many will have questions. She played us all including JRS the master himself. He was much more loving and caring until she began her journey to the top decimating anyone or anything in her way.

I don't know about visiting the cemetery--maybe others will have thoughts on that.

Peace to you and again, thank you for shedding more light on the subject.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: Onion ()
Date: October 10, 2018 06:31AM

I echo Changedagain's thanks to you Chicago (may I call you just Chicago?). I lived with Marilyn and her kids and Bessie for many years. The little I know about her family history came in conversations with her in the 70's before she had come into power. She rarely talked about her family or her childhood and I have been wishing we could find out more about where she really came from.

I recently had a call from my cousin John Judah McClane and he mentioned that he is working on the Shiloh cemetery. He lives in the San Fernando Valley but travels often to Shiloh. His dad, Bob McClane, actually went to San Fernando High School at the same time Marilyn went there. We discovered that when Marilyn saw a picture of Bob that I had and recognized him from high school. He was a loyal church member who gave and lost everything to the cult.

I can check with my cousin John and ask who you should talk to. I think security is probably a little tight at Shiloh especially with all of the current activity on this forum and other activity that I hope will expose legal wrongdoings in the cult. You can contact me with a private message through this forum so I can give John your name -- or I will get his number and send it to you thru a private message if you don't want to give me your name. I will just have to figure out how to tell him I spoke with you... Life is interesting!

Would you mind giving us a little information on this forum about Marilyn as a child? I heard once from Bessie that Marilyn was born a twin but the other twin didn't survive. Marilyn wouldn't talk about that.

Bessie and I were really good friends and I loved her a lot. Her treatment by Marilyn and others in the church was the final straw for a lot of people. Bessie was famous for feeding everyone from her crockpots in the van John Stevens rode in for church services. She also mixed a mean cocktail.

Thanks again.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: puddington ()
Date: October 10, 2018 07:09AM

Welcome fromsouthchicago. I think you probably won’t have any trouble visiting Marilyn’s grave at Shiloh. Just my feeling about it.

The Bessie crockpot story brings back fond memories of her. I remember those crockpots. : )

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: fromsouthchicago ()
Date: October 11, 2018 12:49AM

Thank you all for the welcome to the forum. I'll address some of your points and questions.

- First, Onion ... thank you so much for sharing your experiences with my Aunt Bessie. Yes, she was a wonderful person. I'm so happy to know that she was loved. And it was my experience that she was a giving and generous person. I know that she always went out of her way to make my parents, brother and myself feel welcome even when we showed up late at night. So Bessie feeling people from her crockpot makes complete sense to me and I can picture and hear her feeding and talking to people. Thank you for that.

-Second, the "mean cocktail" is no surprise to me. Her late ex-husband, my Uncle Buss (Earl) Cleland, liked his mixed drinks. That Bessie developed bartender-level skills does not surprise me. That's completely consistent with the Bessie I knew.


- Third, a little background on me that helps put in context the story I'm about to tell ... I was born and grew up in Southern California, but I've considered Chicago, the Chicago area, my home since graduate school. I was living in Chicago at the time when I visited Bessie in the nursing home(?) not long before she died. She had developed melanoma and it had gone untreated for years (I was told). Anyway, I still can see her face light up when I walked into the room with my parents. I don't believe that she knew I was in the area. She was so frail and using a walker. Nevertheless, when she gave me that beaming smile, I saw again the vital Aunt Bessie I had seen in my early years.

- Fourth, that Marilyn was a twin? That rings a bell, however, I'm not completely certain. But if you heard it from Bessie, then it's true. I'll check with Charles to see if he knows.

- Fifth, and a point about my moniker, fromsouthchicago. It's a moniker I've used for years. If see this moniker in other forums, be assured that's me.

- Sixth, this will be my last item on this post. I promise I'll post more. And I'll let you know if my travels will take me near "The Farm" when I have a date certain. Anyway, here's the story I wanted to tell you: my wife and I were visiting California and helping to clean out my Dad's house. He was moving to my brother's home in Covina. We found some photos and in that pile of photos was a large photo of Marilyn from her senior year in high school. Have any of you seen photos of Marilyn when she was young? My wife was actually taken aback when she saw the photo because Marilyn was spectacularly beautiful.

Marilyn learned how to use her looks to get wanted. At what point in her life did it became clear to her she could use her beauty to acquire power, money ... and whatever else she wanted? My guess would be was when "Brother" Stevens started paying lots of attention to her and began raising her status and profile in the cult. If memory serves me, it started shortly after she joined.

In later postings, I'll tell you some family stories.

All for now ... more later.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: Onion ()
Date: October 11, 2018 04:59AM

Thanks, Southchi. Chicago is a special place for me because my dad was raised near there in Illinois and one of my favorite Aunt (Jessie) waiting tables in a diner in Chicago for 50 years. When I was in graduate school she would send me a check every month when she got her social security. The checks were anywhere from $1.50 up to $3.00 and were the most priceless gifts I received. Her son still lives in Westchester, Illinois after working his whole life in Chicago. He just turned 80.

I appreciate having my memories of Bessie revived too. She and I had so much fun together. I moved into the Blix House in Feb 1972 and not long after that Marilyn began going away every Monday and Tuesday at the same time JRS always went away "to wait on the Lord" after his busy weekend church schedule. On those nights Bessie and I would go do fun things and we laughed ourselves silly most of the time. We went to movies together (back when there were still double features) and one night the second movie that came on was kind of pornographic and we started laughing about how the hell we could sneak out of the movie and it was hilarious. I used to go to lunch with her and her girlfriends about once a week when she could come near my job and we would explore new places and foods.

I visited Bessie in her rest home too and I know what you mean about how her face would light up when she had a visitor. I've seen the pictures of Marilyn when she was a young mother and she was beautiful -- but she got her beauty from Bessie who was a gorgeous gal too.

Ask any of us for anything you might need and please post again and often.

Thank you.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: fromsouthchicago ()
Date: October 12, 2018 02:12AM

Onion: Looks like you had more contact with Bessie than I ever did. Lucky you. Bessie was one of the few relatives who actually liked me while growing up. (There was a strange family dynamic going on, on both sides of my family for decades. Too complicated to explain here. And some of it I've had to piece together over the years.) So my memories of Bessie are good ones.

Again, thank you for sharing your stories.

Of the two sisters, Bessie was the more attractive, although my mother was pretty when she was young. Buss, Marilyn's father was a handsome man, far more handsome than my father. Fortunately my brother and I look more like our mother than our father. For that we are grateful.

Here's some family lore that you probably know, but maybe many of those associated with the TLWF may not know. According to Bessie that she announced at a family gathering (Thanksgiving I believe), that her mother, my maternal grandmother (Mattie) was half Cherokee ... you can imagine my "what?" response. (I was teenager at the time.) It did explain a lot regarding what I knew about Mattie at the time -- she died before I was born -- and even more later. (BTW, Mattie had a prominent Cherokee last name, "Brock".)

However, there are some suggestions that she may have been more than half American Indian. And as near as I can tell ... Mattie and (Bessie's and my mother's) father may not have been allowed to marry because of the anti-miscegenation laws that applied to whites marrying American Indians where they met in Texas. I'm not completely up to speed on how they were applied in Texas at the time, but I believe they would have been applied if Mattie was predominately American Indian not if she was 1/2. More research is required.

They were married in 1930 in Colorado -- I saw their marriage license years after my mother died. My brother and father called around to the rest of the family (not including Marilyn ... didn't want to go down that rabbit hole) about what we had found. None of them knew about it including their adopted brother, Bob, and Charles. So it is possible that Bessie wasn't even aware of it.

So the point to all this ... I think Bessie's and Marilyn's good looks originate primarily from Mattie.

And I gotta get that DNA test to be completely sure. Am I 25% or 12.5% American Indian? Oh, I should mention ... particularly when I was younger, I have a fairly dark complexion. When I was a teenager, a cop asked me if I was Mexican. Yes that actually happened.

I do remember discussions about the Blix House and people living there. When you mentioned it, I went "oh yeah, I remember that place." Never saw it. I just remember Bessie and others talking about it.

More stories later.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: Onion ()
Date: October 12, 2018 10:39AM

Thanks Chicago. I was raised with my mother telling me of my two great grandfathers that both had a lot of Indian blood. My mom had a prominent nose and her family was from the South and then East Texas so we assumed our Indian heritage was from there. After mom died I got the dna test - not a speck of American Indian. My mom would have called them liars but a cousin told me that the Indian grandfathers were actually step-fathers, not bio/blood relatives. It was still interesting all the way around.

HEY EVERYONE WHERE ARE YOU? Maybe you all got invited to the big ministry meeting last weekend at CLW. I've heard a few smidgens about it - nothing life altering or surprising (or representing much change really). Ho hum.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: changedagain ()
Date: October 12, 2018 11:16PM

Welcome Chicago. I appreciate your input about your cousin Marilyn. Hope to hear more from you.

fromsouthchicago Wrote:

> And I gotta get that DNA test to be completely
> sure. Am I 25% or 12.5% American Indian? Oh, I
> should mention ... particularly when I was
> younger, I have a fairly dark complexion. When I
> was a teenager, a cop asked me if I was Mexican.
> Yes that actually happened.

Wow.
Nothing like science to sift things out. I had one family member who insisted that we had a significant percentage of Asian in our DNA--nothing to back it up, just a feeling. And during my teen years my Mom took me aside one day and whispered into my ear that 'we had Jew in us.' I guess her growing up Catholic, that reality was alarming. Anyway, I provided a sample of my DNA to both ancestry.com and 23andme and received roughly the same results. No Asian--that was nonsense--but definitely some Jew. Oh well. The weird thing is I have zero aptitude for finance. So it makes no sense ;)
I've attached the 23andme results.

p.s. if a cop ever pulls me over and asks me whether I am a Jew, I will answer truthfully: 'Not really, officer. I am mostly British and Irish. But thanks for asking!'

Attachments: ancestry composition 2.jpg (58.1 KB)  
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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Date: October 13, 2018 01:00AM

Welcome fromsouthchicago!

I was a member at Shiloh for 9 years or so and was at Marilyn's funeral. She was buried next to JRS in a grass covered, raised tomb of sorts in the heart of the memorial cemetery. There may or may not be anyone there if you choose to go visit and pay your respects. It is common for people to stop in and pay their respects so I doubt that anyone will approach you and ask why you are there.

Here are some directions to it if you are driving south on Highway 1 (from Iowa city):

- south on highway 1 (drive past the Kalona 4-way stop, past the sinclair station, over the bridge of the old english river)
- turn left on 133rd (there is a sign for shiloh church)
- follow 133rd until you see Shiloh Dr. and take a right onto it.
- Follow the paved path until you see the amphitheater and then you will see a fork in the road - the left path is gravel and the right path is paved and leads to the church complex.
- Take the left path on gravel and it will lead you to the "memorial park"
- As far as I know, Marilyn and John's grave is unmarked - everyone knows where they are. It is a grassy patch, surrounded by stones and elevated above the ground.

Another tip is to drive toward the shiloh water tower. The cemetery is right at the base of the tower.

Wish you luck!

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